PRELUDE – “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Psalm 147:1-6

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.

The Lord lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

Song –

Speak O Lord” by Keith & Kristyn Getty

CONFESSION OF SIN – Deuteronomy 28:58-63

If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book,

that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God,

then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions,

afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting.

And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt,

of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you.

Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law,

the Lord will bring upon you, until you are destroyed.

Whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number,

because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God.

And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you,

so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you.

And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Jeremiah 31:31-34

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,

when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,

not like the covenant that I made with their fathers

on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt,

my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,

declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.

And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother,

saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me,

from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.

For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Songs –

His Mercy Is More” by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa

In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

PRAYER

SCRIPTURE READING – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

SERMON – “The Body of Christ”

LORD’S TABLE

OFFERING

Songs –

Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn)” by Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend

Doxology

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “Take ‘em to Church – God’s Servant Feat. Azriel

Shawarma-Spiced Chicken Pita with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

We will be making shawarma-spiced chicken pita with tahini-yogurt sauce for our main dish. This is on heavy rotation in our house because it has protein, carbs, healthy fats and vegetables all-in-one, it comes together quickly when we are starving after work, and it is very affordable since chicken thighs are the main protein. This recipe feeds four adults, so feel free to adjust up or down if needed.

If you’d like an additional side dish, we’d recommend pita chips and/or extra veggies with hummus (homemade or store-bought). For dessert, if you’re looking for something on-theme, we’d recommend getting some extra yogurt and pairing it with honey and fresh berries. Or, if you’d like to experiment with tahini more and are up for a challenge to make a more weekend-worthy dessert, we recently made these tahini billionaire bars (kind of like Twix bars) and really enjoyed them. You can make them before the retreat starts and store them covered in the fridge.

Below are the ingredients for the main course (excluding optional sides and dessert). You will also need a sheet pan, 2 medium-to-large bowls, aluminum foil, a knife, a couple of spoons, and measuring cups/spoons. A lemon zester would be handy as well.

Meat/Dairy:

· 1½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

· 1 cup full-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt

Fruit/Vegetables:

· 2 lemons

· 1 small red onion

· ¾ cup (~5 oz.) cherry or grape tomatoes

· Head of romaine or a bag of pre-shredded romaine

· 1 English cucumber or 2-3 Persian cucumbers

· 1 clove garlic

· Dill (fresh)

· Mint (fresh)

Pantry:

· 1 TBS plus 1 tsp. tahini (sesame seed paste; often located by the peanut butter)

· 4 pita breads or naan breads

· ½ tsp. ground cumin

· ¼ tsp. ground coriander

· ¼ tsp. paprika

· 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

· 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

· 1½ tsp. kosher salt

· ¾ tsp. ground black pepper

· 4 TBS extra virgin olive oil

For through him

we both have access

in one Spirit

to the Father.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,

but you are fellow citizens

with the saints and members of the household of God.

Ephesians 2:18-19

Community is difficult to maintain because it takes sacrifice, love, and commitment.

Most of IBC, if not all of us, desire to experience community, but we are not always willing to sacrifice, love, and commit to one another. Most of us, if not all of us, at some point have a dating relationship with IBC, even the longshoremen and leaders. At the core of why we don’t value community (IBC in our case) is not because of busyness, consumerism, or/and having other priorities over the community. At the core of why we don’t value community is that we don’t truly understand what community/church is.

According to this text, a gospel-community has access in one Spirit to the Father. We are fellow citizens and members of the household of God. I know that this text doesn’t specifically use the word ‘community’, but I am going to apply it to community. Paul is telling the Ephesians (Jews and Gentiles) of what their identity is. The Ephesians are united in one Spirit to the Father, fellow citizens, and members of the household of God. Likewise, we share one Spirit who brings us to the Father. We are fellow citizens and members of the household of God.

One Spirit, to the Father

Paul is exhorting the Ephesians to be “one.” I know that it is extremely hard to be “one” amidst a pandemic. COVID-19 seems to present another barrier to gospel-community. Our church has had to do much of our church life virtually, such as Small Groups and Prayer Meeting. It’s not easy to be “one” when many of us don’t live in the city of Chicago right now and are elsewhere in the country.

The list of barriers to gospel-community goes on and on. However, those are just excuses. If we, IBC, truly believe that we are “one,” then we are willing to make the sacrifice, love, and commitment. I know that it is hard. I never said that this is going to be easy, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

Why? Because we have access in “one Spirit to the Father.” We are not “one” because of our hobbies or life-stage, but one because we are all brought through the same Spirit to the Father. We are united in the same Holy Spirit. Wow!!! Isn’t that amazing?

It’s the Holy Spirit that maintains gospel-community for us and through us as we, IBC, intentionally build up this community of faith. The Holy Spirit is with us and helps us adorn this community into the most beautiful bride that the world has ever known, which is the local church (in our case, IBC). Don’t you want to be part of building up the most beautiful bride of Jesus Christ? This is eternal. We can build up our careers, our barns (so to speak), but will they last for eternity?

Think about it: in light of eternity, are you going to spend your time building up your careers/barns/etc… or are you going to spend your time building up the church that’s going to last for eternity? Ultimately, when we build the church (IBC in our case), we are building by the Spirit of God, and not by ourselves.

The most amazing thing is that it’s “one Spirit to the Father.” The whole point of the Spirit building the church (IBC in our case) is so that we enjoy our Father. We are building up the community by the Spirit so that we can enjoy our Father more, so we can love our Father more, so we can know our Father more intimately.

Do you want to enjoy the Father more? Do you want to love the Father more? Do you want to know the Father more intimately? If you do, then invest in, love, and serve IBC in any ways that you can.

Fellow Citizens

Not only are we brought by one Spirit to the Father, but we are also fellow citizens. We are not just U.S. citizens or citizens from elsewhere. As a U.S. citizen, I do get a lot of benefits such as healthcare, Social Security (when I get old), and other benefits that the government offers. However, we, IBC, are called to live out our citizenship as one. We are not just individuals, but collective fellow citizens.

This is why we are called to be involved with one another’s lives. We are called to serve one another, love one another, rebuke one another in a loving way, pray for one another, and all the one another commands in the Bible. How are you doing in the one another commands with your fellow citizens in the church? Is there one or a couple of fellow citizens that you can pray for, love, and serve?

Furthermore, as fellow citizens of the kingdom of God, we are saved by God’s grace and given an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). You do not earn your way to becoming fellow citizens. It’s all of grace, given by our King to underserving and ungrateful enemies who are now made citizens. Are you living out your citizenship from God? Are you living out your citizenship in light of our community, IBC?

Members of the Household of God

Not only are we brought by one Spirit to the Father and made fellow citizens, but we are ultimately members of the household of God. Gospel-community ultimately is about a family. In this case, a spiritual family but also an intimate family.

I know that some of you may not have the best earthly family. On the other hand, some of us do have an awesome earthly family. Whether we do not have a great earthly family or do have a great earthly family, we, IBC, are called to BE members of the household of God.

In other words, it’s all about grace. Paul is exhorting the Ephesians to live out who they are as Christians. In this case, we are members of the household of God. We don’t earn this. God has saved us, IBC, so that we can become part of the family of God. Are you living out this awesome privilege of being a child of God? Even in the midst of this sinful-pandemic-injustice-quarantine world, we should live out this privilege of what it means to be a child of God. We are not just members of the greatest household, but we are members of the household of God.

I know that it’s extremely difficult to stay connected with our local church, IBC, during this COVD-19 season. However, if you are really a member of our church, then, you will actively do what members are called to do, not for the sake of just loving one another, but for sake of strengthening the family of God. Our spiritual church family should maybe be even more intimate than your earthly family. Are your relationships at IBC spiritual and intimate? That is what it means to be members of the household of God.

As you invest more of your time, resources, money, and your life into our church, then you’ll realize that it’s an honor and privilege to do that because you are building up the community, IBC, by the Spirit, as fellow citizens and members of the household of God. All this is made possible through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Your brother,

Yong

PRELUDE – “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Malachi 1:11

For from the rising of the sun to its setting

my name will be great among the nations,

and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering.

For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

Song –

This is My Father’s World” by Maltbie Davenport Babcock and Franklin Lawrence Sheppard

CONFESSION OF SIN – Hosea 11:1-3

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.

Song –

White as Snow” by Jon Foreman

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – 1 John 1:6-7

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness,

we lie and do not practice the truth.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,

we have fellowship with one another,

and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Song –

Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry

PRAYER

THE LORD’S PRAYER

EVERYONE:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory,

forever. Amen.

SCRIPTURE READING – 1 John 2:28 – 3:1-3

SERMON – “Our Adoption and Christ’s Appearing”

LORD’S TABLE

OFFERING

Songs –

I Have a Maker” by Tommy Walker

Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn)” by Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend

Soon” by Brooke Ligertwood

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “O Praise the Name” by Hillsong Worship

“I have said these things to you,

that in me you may have peace.

In the world you will have tribulation.

But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

These words mark the conclusion of Christ’s final sermon to his disciples. John records for us one final high priestly prayer, then Christ turns himself in to be betrayed, arrested, and crucified. Let us consider three things we can hold onto in light of this passage.

The Presence of Christ

Of the many things Jesus taught his disciples in this final sermon, he taught them about his departure. “I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer” (Jn. 16:10). The One who demonstrated his power over the forces of nature and death, who taught them with words of wisdom and authority, who loved them so much, was going away. How could they bear it?

Understandably, they were troubled and sorrowful.

And yet Jesus promised his presence in spite of his physical absence. He goes in order to send the Holy Spirit, who will glorify Christ. In these troubled and sorrowful times, let us remember that Christ is with us, his people. He has not left us alone to face the tribulations of this world, but instead walks with us through the valley.

The Peace of Christ

Where will we have tribulation? “In the world.”

There is no abiding peace to be found in the world. The world is buried with turmoil in the present and uncertainty about what lies ahead. How can it provide solid peace for our weary souls? It can’t. Let’s not try and find it there. Indeed, the world is at enmity with God. As believers, we should expect nothing less than trouble and persecution.

Where may we find peace? “In me.”

True, spiritual peace is found in Christ. Not in our own strivings, our own strength, or even our own religious obedience, but in Christ. His perfect life and his atoning death secures us pardon for sin and everlasting peace with God. His work, not ours. So no matter how much the tribulation of the world may torment us, our peace remains secure. It is a peace that the world can neither give nor take away. As the nations rage and peoples plot, let us take refuge under the shadow of the Cross, knowing that we have an abiding peace in the midst of swirling chaos.

The Power of Christ

Christ has overcome the world. He resisted greater temptation than any of us will face, so that the allurements of the world should no longer entice us. He bore scorn and ridicule as the Man of Sorrows, so that the evils of the world should no longer discourage us. Christ triumphed over the world so that it stands before us as a defeated enemy. What power does a charmer have without her charms? What can a conquered foe do to harm you? Nothing – Christ has disarmed the world. Does the world seek to draw you away with its promises of happiness, prosperity, ‘the good life’? Does it try and trouble you by marginalizing the church and mocking the values it stands for? We don’t have to give in. Take heart, for Christ has overcome the world.

~ Enoch

Immanuel Baptist Church

Summer Retreat

A Theology of the Body

July 17-19, 2020

Friday (7/17)

7:00 PM – Welcome and Intro – (Zoom; gathering at The Meeting Place and in homes)

Mobility Stretching – Macie

 

7:30 – Fun Facts About the Human Body  (YouTube/Zoom)

Talk: “A Theology of the Body” – Nathan (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

 

8:15 – Discussion (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

 

9:00 – Charades and Other Games (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

 

Saturday (7/18)

Breakfast (on your own at home)

 

9:00 AM – Fun Fact About the Human Body (YouTube/Zoom)

Chat: “Fitness/Exercise” – James (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

 

9:45 – UIC Area 5K Fun Run/Walk (start and end at The Meeting Place)

KIDS SPORTS CAMP (behind The Meeting Place) – Paulo & Taylor

 

11:30 – Fun Fact About the Human Body (YouTube/Zoom)

Chat: “Place” – Nathan (Zoom)

 

12:00 PM – Lunch (picnics in UIC Area parks; mix-n-matched groups)

 

1:30 – Breakouts: “Sex” (frank discussions in person revolving around sex, including body image, gender…)

For the Single Guy

For the Single Gal

For Married Men

For Married Women

 

5:00 – Chat: “Disability” – Enoch (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

Chat: “Aging” – Willie (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

 

5:30 – Fun Fact About the Body (YouTube/Zoom)

Chat: “Food/Nutrition” – Lizzy (Zoom)

 

6:00 PM – Dinner: “Cooking with Ben & Anika: Shawarma-Spiced Chicken Pita with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce” – Ben & Anika (Zoom from their kitchen; ingredient list sent out ahead of time)

 

8:00 – Fun Fact About the Human Body (YouTube/Zoom)

Chat: “Technology and Artificial Intelligence” – Theo (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

Chat: “Race” – Dami (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

 

8:30 – Socially Distant Dance Party (at The Meeting Place and on Zoom)

 

Sunday (7/19)

Breakfast (on your own at home)

 

9:15 AM – Prayer Walks (paired up with another household that lives close to you to prayer walk your immediate neighborhood)

 

10:45 – Sunday Service (behind The Meeting Place)

“The Body of Christ” – Nathan

PRELUDE – “Rest In You” by All Sons and Daughters

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – John 17:1-5

When Jesus had spoken these words,

he lifted up his eyes to heaven,

and said, “Father, the hour has come;

glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,

since you have given him authority over all flesh,

to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God,

and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence

with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Song –

To God be the Glory” by Fanny Jane Crosby and William Howard Doane

CONFESSION OF SIN –

Holy Father, forgive us.

Though you should guide us, we inform ourselves.

Though you should rule us, we control ourselves.

Though you should fulfill us, we console ourselves.

For we think your truth too high, your will too hard,

your power to remote, your love too free.

But they are not!

And without them, we are of all people most miserable.

Heal our confused mind with your word,

heal our divided will with your law,

heal our troubled conscience with your love,

heal our anxious hearts with your presence,

all for the sake of your Son,

who loved us and gave himself for us.

Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Matthew 11:28-29

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,

for I am gentle and lowly in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

Songs –

Give us Clean Hands” by Charlie Hall

Here is Love” by Matt Redman, Robert Lowry, and William Rees

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – The Apostles’ Creed

We believe in God the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ

his only Son our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, dead, and buried,

he descended to hell

and on the third day he rose again from the dead,

he ascended into heaven,

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,

from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of the saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.

Amen.

PRAYER

SCRIPTURE READING – 1 John 2:21-27

SERMON – “Abiding”

LORD’S TABLE

OFFERING

Songs –

How Deep the Father’s Love” by Stuart Townend

Worthy Worthy” by Jacob Sooter and Mia Fieldes

Doxology

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “Omnipotent” by Beautiful Eulogy

“It is written…”

Matthew 4:4, 7, 10

What a privilege it is to have a book from God to explain the world to us.

Scripture explains reality. It is not above reality. It contains harrowing accounts of murder, incest, and injustice. It has stories of war and triumph. Love songs. Lamentations. Confusing parables. Epistolary correspondence. Revelations of the future. Prophecies. Courage and cowardice. These are the words of God himself to us.

Why did God give us this book? It helps us interpret reality.

Satan, the father of lies and deceit, on the other hand, wants to hide reality. He wants us to be overwhelmed with the lies that bombard us from every angle. Christ wants us to be free with the Truth that he has reconciled us to himself through his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. It is the goal of Satan to get us to believe lies and to use those lies to create fear and distrust of God. It is God’s goal with Scripture to confront us with the Truth in order that we might embrace and trust him.

What lies are you believing? What truths are you ignoring?

I am discouraged. I am discouraged because I believe the lie that who I am is determined by what I do and the titles I hold rather than in Christ.

Lie: You are only as important and loved as you are professionally polished, or published, or to the extent of your social notoriety.

Truth: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

Lie: If you were more disciplined and more socially engaged during the quarantine, you would have been a lot happier. You didn’t, so you are a failure.

Truth: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom. 8:23). “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Ph. 1:6).

Lie: What would God possibly want with someone who can’t even keep up with the IBC Bible Reading Plan? I am just an undisciplined and useless person.

Truth: “But he said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then am I strong” (2Cor. 12:9-10).

During the trial of Jesus in the desert, what did Jesus quote? Deuteronomy. Jesus – God’s Truth to humanity – used the truth of Deuteronomy to answer Satan’s lies. Instead of pondering and distrusting God, as Adam and Eve had (followed by fear), Jesus declares, with full throat, the truth.

Again, what lies are you believing? What truth does Jesus declare in his word about these lies?

In need of reminders of reality,

Jeremiah

PRELUDE – “Regeneration

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Hebrews 10:19-23

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places

 by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us

through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,

and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,

with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience

 and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,

for he who promised is faithful.

 

Song –

Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Obediah Chisholm and William Marion Runyan

 

CONFESSION OF SIN  – Daniel 9:7-11

To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness,

but to us open shame,

 as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away,

in all the lands to which you have driven them,

because of the treachery that they have committed against you.

To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers,

because we have sinned against you.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness,

for we have rebelled against him

 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws,

which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside,

refusing to obey your voice.

And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have

been poured out upon us,

because we have sinned against him.

 

Song –

Create in Me a Clean Heart” by Keith Green

ASSURANCE OF PARDON –

Who is a God like you,

pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?

He does not retain his anger forever,because he delights in steadfast love.
 

He will again have compassion on us;he will tread our iniquities underfoot.

You will cast all oursins into the depths of the sea.

 

Song –

He Will Hold Me Fast” by Ada Ruth Habershon and Matthew Merker

PRAYER

SCRIPTURE READING – 1 John 2:18-20

SERMON – “The Last Hour”

LORD’S TABLE

OFFERING

Songs –

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” by Edward Mote

Be Unto Your Name” by Gary Sadler and Lynn DeShazo

O Church Arise” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “Come As You Are” by David Crowder

Do all things

without grumbling

or disputing.

Philippians 2:14

*grumble, grumble, grumble* Why do I have to wear this blasted mask?

*humph, humph, humph* I just hate Zoom calls!

*grr, grr, grr* I can’t believe the National League is going to have the Designated Hitter

We’ve been reading through the book of Philippians lately in our Bible Reading Plan. It is SO timely, isn’t it?

For example, the command in 2:14 to do everything without grumbling is deeply convicting. In this season so much seems so hard. Just going grocery shopping is a massive inconvenience. We’ve had to give up so many plans. The temptation is strong to gripe and complain, to turn critical and cynical. But 2:14 confronts that attitude.

And Paul’s admonition fits right into the larger context. Paul has been calling on Christians of all people to be radically selfless. Grumbling reveals deep-seated selfishness. We grumble when our own preferences, desires, or needs are not being met. But in Philippians, Paul is saying that we should think of others’ needs above our own.

When we have that posture of humility and servanthood, it reduces the impulse to complain. Unity becomes more important than my individual comfort. The glory of Christ becomes my aim more than having things done my way. Serving others becomes a joy instead of a hassle. I don’t have to assert my will; I can adapt, even submit, to others’ wills.

As we re-convene meeting together a lot is going to be asked of each of us. There will be decisions made that you don’t like or disagree with or would have done differently. You’ll have new opportunities to sacrifice your time and ease and schedule to prioritize community. You may remember that the people you had a break from for a while can annoy you.

But our desire should be to have a heart that says, “Whatever it takes, I’ll do it! Count me in! How can I help? Whatever God asks, I’ll trust him to help me obey. In what ways can I give up my desires to serve someone else?” We should gladly do things we don’t like because it’s for someone we love.

This is going to be a great chance to lay aside our own preferences and bend over backwards to accommodate others’. We are going to have ample opportunity to extend a lot of grace to each other.

Why would we want to do this? It’s easier to grumble and disengage. We do it, quite simply, because Jesus did it for us. Have you experienced his grace – Christ’s utter humility displayed in leaving the comfort and ease of heaven to be infinitely inconvenienced for you? He didn’t have a chip on his shoulder as he bore the Cross for you. Doesn’t that make you want to stop whining about little things and live for others?

“I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:8). I can’t wait to see you!

Seeking to selflessly serve you,

And needing your selfless grace,

Pastor Nathan

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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